After a couple of nostalgic days in Victoria, followed by a wonderful get away with my sister at a guest house on Cortes Island, and then a nice visit with Don’s son and wife, I was feeling pretty good, in control — got this new situation nailed, I secretly thought. I can do this.
But perhaps those little trips uncovered far too many memories of our past together, of all the good times. I did feel gently sad, but that seemed appropriate.
Went for lunch with Don at Seniors Village and left as he nodded off, having told me again how happy he was to have me with him. Oh my sweet.
Later that night it hit again. Waves and waves of painful grief. I can’t describe the hurt but anyone who has gone through grief knows the incredible pain.
It goes back to the same ambivalence. He is not dead– very much alive and very much himself to the loving eye — and yet the man with whom I built my life is gone, forever. No more sweet nights under starry skies, no more fevered arguments ending in loving forgiveness.
Just a man babbling, mostly, and afraid of every little thing, safely looked after in the nursing home. Still feeling the same to the touch, still trying to use that beautiful mind that has failed him over and over.
Missing me but barely recognizing me when I show up. Thankfully he seems to think I live in the building somewhere, where I visit his mom, dead these 20 years. He is waiting for her. I weep inside but show only smiles outside.
Only a shell. And the pain of loss, unshared.
And then, as suddenly as it came, the grief subsides, rolling back hissing like ocean breakers. I breathe, waiting calmly, quietly now, knowing that like the ocean this will go on.
“A broken heart,” said a wise woman I am proud to call friend, “never heals.”
Tomorrow I will start to plant my small garden. What else is there to do?
And then go quietly to visit my love again, wishing he could heal my hurt with understanding and care, as only he once could.